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Ova Saopheng, Theatre Artist Takes a Center Stage in Refugee Nation


Lao-American Ova Saopheng tried out a theatre role in high school, fell in love with it and made theatrical performing his career choice. To Asians, theatrical art is still an occupation not regarded as highly as lawyers, doctors and alike; therefore, to see Asian actors in this field is rather rare, but Ova sees it differently. He enjoys performing on stage and loves it because he can make people laugh and cry.

Ova started performing in his teen. His teacher told him to audition for a play back in 8th grade in Hawaii, so he went and got the part. Ova said he had to learn to say tongue-twisting sentences before he got the role. It was difficult but he enjoyed the sound he made once he mastered the sentences. "It's embarrassing, but once I got it, I think it is quite amusing," Ova explained.

Ova went on and took it further. He studied Theatre Arts in college and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California, and later joined the TeAda Productions in LosAngeles where his wife Leilani Chan is a founding artist director.

Since then Over has been working nationally with many theater companies including the Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis on the production of "Dragonwings," Mark Taper Forum/P.L.A.Y. production of "Wondrous Tales of Old Japan", a kabuki American adaptation of Japanese folk tales written and directed by David Furumoto, and East West Players, the premiere Asian American Theater Company in the nation. Ova also toured colleges and universities with the Asian American Theater troupe and is an active member of We Tell Stories and Water's Edge Theater.

Besides his busy schedule with other productions, Ova is also a roster artist with TeAda Productions based in southern California. The TeAda is a company dedicated to supporting and developing artists of color to create innovative theatrical performances to empower under-served communities. "Refugee Nation" a play written and performed by Leilani Chan and Ova Saopeng about the Lao-American experience, based on interviews and workshops in Lao communities throughout the U.S., is currently touring.

The success of "Refugee Nation" spreads out from Southern California all the way to the Bay areas and up the West Coast and to Alaska. The play will be part of the First Ever National Asian American Theater Festival in New York City, June 22-24, 2007 at Abingdon Theater, 312 W 36th St., New York, NY 10018. In the year 2010, the "Refugee Nation" will be performing at the Khon Kaen University in Thailand as a part of the International for Lao Studies.

In addition to his stage career, Ova also has performed on screen, snatching a role as an extra in the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean 3," in which he appeared as one of the cannibals.

To help fund his "Refugee Nation," Ova is selling T-shirts with the phrase "Lao'd and Proud" in front to emphasize his Lao roots.

"Lao'd and Proud" T-shirts are available for purchase at www.blacklava.net or donate at www.teada.org

For additional schedule and show dates: you can contact The TeAda Productions at http://www.teada.org

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